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UK leads Europe as ‘digital elite’ economy

A study of the world’s top-performing IT economies has named the UK as one of a select group of ‘digital elite’: countries that show high levels of digital development and technology adoption. It shares the ranking with Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, Estonia, the UAE and New Zealand.

The Digital Evolution Index 2017 was put together by Mastercard and Tufts University, ranking 60 countries by four key drivers: supply (of internet access/infrastructure); consumer demand for digital; institutional environment (government policies, etc); and innovation.

“Adoption, the quality of digital infrastructure and institutions, and innovation collectively shape a country’s digital competitiveness, but governments also play a key role. The report also found that consumers’ trust in digital technologies correlates with digital competitiveness,” said Bhaskar Chakravorti, senior associate dean of international business finance at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Markets were placed in one of four categories:

  • ‘Stand Out’ – the top performers, listed above, which lead in innovation and growth;
  • ‘Stall Out’ – a history of strong growth, but slowing momentum; most of Western Europe is here, as well as Australia and the South Korea;
  • ‘Break Out’ – lower levels of digital development, but showing fast growth, such as China, India and Russia; and
  • ‘Watch Out’ – low digital development and slow growth. This category includes South Africa, Egypt and Greece.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, said, “This report shows the UK is the undisputed tech hub of Europe, and confirms our place as a digital world leader and as a centre for excellence in innovation and growth.”

A new part of the Index this year was an investigation of the levels of trust that consumers have in digital technology. 42 countries were analysed on their behaviour, attitudes, environment, and experience.

Western and Northern Europe led in digital trust experience and environment scores, reflecting investments in security, privacy and accountability measures, while China, Switzerland, Singapore and the Nordics score well on different metrics – but for very different reasons. Chinese consumers, for example, demonstrated much higher levels of patience in the face of ‘friction’, such as slow internet speeds. Overall, the research shows that consumers in countries with high levels of digital momentum were more tolerant of friction in their daily digital interactions.

The report, which can be viewed here, suggests using public policy as a ‘key’ to digital economy success; for example, in Brexit negotiations.

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